Beyond the Build


Managers, Consider Renaissance Resumes

There is an old story about a brilliant scientist who boasted that he could examine a book and tell you anything about it–what type of ink was used, the composition of the paper, even details about the molecules that made up the book.

But when the scientist sat down to actually read, he realized the book was written in German. And he couldn’t read German.

To me, the story is a great reminder about the importance of basic communication. If you have great ideas and problem solving skills, but can’t communicate them accurately to those around you, what can you truly accomplish? I remind myself of this balance every time we need to make a hire.

Recently, the college-age daughter of one of my colleagues decided she wanted to major in English. Both of her parents are engineers, and they wondered what she could do with an Liberal Arts degree. But to me, that is one of the best degrees you can have. Even in our modern world of digital technology, it is still crucial to communicate effectively, to have a greater impact on the heart and mind while using fewer words.

Last year I wrote a post titled, “Should You Hire for Technical Skills or Communication Skills” and mentioned one of our project managers who had a Liberal Arts degree and an English background, but a limited amount of technical knowledge. Still, because he was such a skilled communicator, he was able to convey what he knew about the business in a distinct, easy-to-follow manner. He gradually gained the technical knowledge and, combined with his communication skills, became a very strong project manager.

Do you hire Renaissance men and women? How has it made you more successful?

Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.